STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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The legacy of Ornette Coleman (and, some say, Jimi Hendrix) lives on in jazz-soul-funk electric guitarist and singer James “Blood” Ulmer.
Ulmer, who played and toured with the revered jazz saxophonist during the 1970s, often cites Coleman’s musical philosophy — harmolodics, an intuitive style of free-form composition in which harmony, movement of sound and melody all share the same value.
“You can decide what kind of music you put it to, blues or jazz … Once you find out what kind of music you wanna play, you can improvise,” Ulmer said in a phone conversation. “You go to China, you got Chinese music. But in America you can celebrate having more than one kind of music. It is possible for a musician to create a (new kind of) music.”
Playing as part of the trio Odyssey — with Charles Burnham on violin and Warren Benbow on drums (no bass) — Ulmer performs Feb. 25 as part of Montgomery County Community College’s Lively Arts Series. He said the set will revisit his albums “Tales of Captain Black” (the 1978 release that featured Coleman as a guest musician), “Are You Glad to be in America?” (1980), “Black Rock” (1982), “Odyssey” (1983) and “Blues Preacher” (1992).
Among Ulmer’s multiple guest/sideman credits — including as a member of Music Revelation Ensemble, Phalanx and Third Rail — is a solo in “Water” from The Roots’ 2002 album “Phrenology” and collaborations with guitarist Vernon Reid. Ulmer and Reid’s “Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions” was nominated for the 2002 Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album. He performed at the 2007 Bonnaroo Festival and was featured in Martin Scorsese’s “Lightning in a Bottle” film of Radio City Music Hall live performances.
Before the 8 p.m. concert in the Science Center Theater, Morris Road and DeKalb Pike, Whitpain, there will be a pre-performance conversation with Ulmer and host Rodney Whittenberg, as well as a post-show meet and greet. Tickets are $30, $10 for children. Go to www.mc3.edu/lively-arts or call (215) 641-6518.
Also check out www.facebook.com/James-Blood-Ulmer.